Community Empowerment Programs
In Service of Seniors
Like a good challenge? Helping others? Working in a collegial, team environment? Interested in health care issues? Enjoy the feeling of making someone’s day? If so, we’re looking for a volunteer like you!
APPRISE is Pennsylvania’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program designed to help Pennsylvanians understand their health care options. In Allegheny County, the APPRISE program is operated by Wesley Family Services in partnership with the Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging.
APPRISE assists clients through one-on-one counseling sessions:
- helping them understand their Medicare and Medicaid benefits,
- informing them of their choices about healthcare coverage,
- identifying other medical assistance programs for which they might be eligible, and
- assisting with the completion of the benefit applications.
There are a variety of opportunities to get involved as a volunteer with APPRISE, from assisting with important administrative functions to becoming a trained expert counselor.
Who Should Volunteer
Volunteers should have an interest in the healthcare system, enjoy problem solving, have good communication skills, and be reliable. Individuals who have an active license to sell health insurance cannot volunteer with APPRISE.
All volunteer opportunities are based out of the APPRISE office in East Liberty. The office is accessible by many Port Authority bus lines, including the East Busway, and has free parking available.
All new volunteers must complete a volunteer application and training.
For volunteers with an interest in an ongoing commitment, all opportunities require weekday (Monday-Friday daytime hours) availability. Here are a few examples:
4 hours every other week
- Volunteer as a Telecenter operator, answering incoming calls and helping Medicare beneficiaries from across Pennsylvania connect to their local programs.
- Help APPRISE track and document our services by recording information about Medicare counseling sessions into the data-tracking system.
4-8 hours per week
- All of the above opportunities are available to you, plus…
- Assist with planning and staffing of outreach and counseling events in the community.
- Assist Medicare counselors with client sessions – learning more about the client’s questions and situation, providing information, and conducting research to find additional information and resources.
- Help APPRISE increase the depth and breadth of our expertise by researching information and resources on specific topics relating to Medicare.
8+ hours per week
- All of the above opportunities are available to you, plus…
- Become a trained Medicare Counselor. This involves extensive training and a commitment of at least one year to the APPRISE program.
APPRISE is unable to accept groups or single-day volunteers.
The Bee Kind Program
Offers an opportunity for adults to interact with children ages 3 to 12 in a classroom setting. The Bee Kind presenter will emphasize pro-social behavior by reading emergent childhood literature and facilitating well -designed activities. The Bee Kind volunteer will assist with compiling the craft and paper items needed in each classroom to provide the quality programming. Bee Kind volunteers might also staff tables at resource fairs, assist with scheduling, and help to fundraise so we can serve more children.
At least 4 hours per month presenting to one classroom of children. Helping with supplies, scheduling and resource fairs varies from weekly to once a year.
Contact Shana Orlic at 724 217-8303.
The Foster Grandparent Program
The Foster Grandparent program provides volunteer opportunities to low-income individuals, age 55 and older, who give supportive one-on-one attention to children who are at-risk or have special needs. Foster Grandparents serve though local organizations including Pre-K programs, Head Starts, elementary schools, and other youth-based programming. Foster Grandparents help children learn to read, provide one-on-one support and guide children at critical times in their lives. As a Foster Grandparent, you will provide comfort and love and help community youth achieve a brighter future.
15 hours per week. Eligible individuals receive a tax-free stipend, travel reimbursement, and other benefits. All applicants are required to pass background checks.
Contact Rebecca Maletto-Cornell at 412 660-6841.
The ParentWISE Program
Offers volunteer opportunities for people who believe in the power of family. Some volunteers may choose to serve on the Advisory Committee while others may help by representing the program at resource fairs and community events. Our annual Ice Cream Blast is an opportunity for many volunteers to help us fund and friend raise at a large community event.
ParentWISE has advisory committee meetings every month for 2 hours. Special events like the Ice Cream Blast entails 1 -2 days of volunteering and resource fairs and outreach events range from 2 -4 hours each time.
Contact Julie Cawoski at 724 217-8304
The Veterans Program
Offers opportunities to assist homeless Veterans through donations of hygiene bags, snack packs, and cold weather packs. Volunteers can also serve on the Veterans Advisory Committee or attend resource fairs and community events on behalf of the program. Volunteers can help with fundraising for the Veteran Helping Hand Fund.
Veteran’s services include one-time activities like snack pack assemblies, to 2 hours for an advisory Committee meeting every other month, to covering resource fairs for 2 to 4 hours each time.
Contact Julie Cawoski at 724 217-8304
The Families Outside Program
A series of monthly bus trips visiting PA State Correction Institutes allowing family members to visit their incarcerated loved ones. Volunteers can ride the bus to troubleshoot issues and assist verified families on the bus. Volunteers attend resource fairs and community events to enroll people in the program.
Families Outside uses volunteers for resource fairs and outreach on an as needed basis for 2-4 hours. Bus Trip coordinators are involved one day a month for at least 8 to 12 hours.
Contact Candace Chapman at 412 661-1670
The Ways to Work Program
Volunteers teach basic financial literacy, help develop budgeting skills and serve on the Loan Committee to help people with challenging credit to secure a loan to purchase a reliable car to get to work. Mechanics are also needed to review cars before they are purchased and to teach car care skills to new owners.
Ways to Work Financial Literacy classes are 3 hours once time per month. Loan committee members meet monthly. Car care and car reviews by mechanics are on as needed basis ranging from 1-3 hours. Resource fairs and community events are 2-4 hours.
Contact Gwen Porter at 412 458-6453
Who Should Volunteer?
Any position working with children requires Act 33 and ACT 34 and FBI clearances. Many volunteer positions require adults over 18 years of age. However, we have many opportunities for young people to volunteer and gain needed community service hours or fulfill intern or practicum requirements.
Allegheny and Westmoreland County
Thank you for your interest in volunteering to help a senior in your community! Just an hour of your time each week or month can make an amazing difference in a senior’s life.
At this time, due to COVID-19, In Service of Seniors: Pittsburgh is accepting new volunteers for phone calls and food delivery only. We have a special volunteer registration form and process – CLICK HERE. The information below pertains to our “normal” volunteer activities, which are currently suspended.
When you provide a ride to the doctor or the grocery store, check a senior’s home for safety issues, or just visit and share a cup of tea, you are helping a senior feel less lonely. You are helping a senior maintain their dignity, or stay comfortable living in their own home.
It’s easy to volunteer for Wesley Family Service’s In Service of Seniors:Pittsburgh program. Just follow the steps below to get started. Feel free to complete each step at your convenience or all at once.
1. Open Your Heart to a Senior. Click below to watch a short video from United Way about how volunteering can make a difference in your life and the life of a senior!
2. Volunteer Handbook. Please click here to look over our Volunteer Handbook.
3. Volunteer Orientation PowerPoint Video. Click below to view our Volunteer Orientation PowerPoint.
4. Volunteer Registration Form. This needs to be completed in one sitting. After completing the steps above, please click here to fill out a simple volunteer registration form online. After you submit the form, a staff member will be in touch within a few days to arrange a time to meet with you to complete the volunteer registration process.
5. Volunteer Orientation Survey. We require new volunteers to complete this brief survey, which contains some questions about material covered in the handbook and PowerPoint.
6. Clearances. Below are links to three required clearances. Completed clearance certificates must be on file prior to being matched with a senior.
- Free volunteer criminal check. Free for volunteers. Please complete and provide us with the certificate. PA State Police – https://epatch.state.pa.us/Home.jsp
- Child abuse. Please complete and provide us with the certificate. PA Child Welfare – https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home **Prior to logging into this site, please have ready a list of all of your addresses, including household members, since 1975.
- Driving record. Please complete the “full history” and provide us with the certificate ($10). Penn Dot – https://apps.pa.egov.com/idr
If you have questions at any point in the above process, please contact Tamra at Tamra.Birchfield@wfspa.org or 412-342-2248.